Overview of Type 9 (https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-9/):
Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.
Basic Fear: Of loss and separation
Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind”
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them.
Scripture for Sunday: Genesis 12:10-20
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.” 20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had.
Notes on the Text:
We look at Abraham this week as an example of Enneagram Type 9. Abraham is often known as the father of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). In this passage the names of Abraham and Sarah were still Abram and Sarai. They get changed later to indicate their personal transformation and the claim of God on their lives.
As a Nine, Abraham tended to compromise his values for the sake of peace. He struggled to find his own path in life and in faith. Abraham responded to the call of God to leave his home country to become a nomad and a seeker. He knew that he needed to go on this journey so that he might be transformed into the man God had called him to be. He had lived a very comfortable life up until that point. At an advanced age, it was hard to accept such a challenge, but faith give him the courage to undertake this journey. This was around the year 1750 BCE. Abraham was from the city of Ur which was located on the banks of the Tigris-Euphrates River, south of present and ancient Baghdad. The city of Ur was part of a sophisticated civilization. There are excellent archeological ruins from that section of the world in the Mari and Nuzi materials. Their economy was rich and well developed, and therefore the houses were large with several rooms. The children went to school and wrote on clay tablets with styluses. They had sophisticated canals and ditches for water. So to leave all of that behind for the sake of faith was a major sacrifice. He trusted God’s call as path to fulfill his calling to become a blessing to many nations. Yet, the first time a challenge came his way, Abraham buckled. He was afraid of the Egyptians and decided to do the most convenient thing to avoid conflict and danger. He lied to the officials of Egypt’s king about Sarah. He told them that Sarah was his sister. He even sold his wife to the king. It is hard to imagine why anyone with such deep faith in God would be willing to lie in this way! If Abraham had such trust in God, why did he lie to save his own skin? What difference did faith make in his life if at the first sign of danger he was willing to sell out? In this story Pharaoh ends up doing the right thing while Abraham does the wrong thing.
Through the lens of the Enneagram, we can see that what Abraham did was not that unusual for an unredeemed 9. There are several Nine factors which led Abraham to lie:
- Abraham not really knowing what he stood for
- Abraham being vulnerable to the desires and perspectives of others
- Abraham being afraid of conflict
- Abraham needing a quick fix for his problems
We can relate to Abraham’s experience of buckling under pressure. When the going gets tough, it is not always easy to live faithfully. The values of the Kingdom of God are admirable and amazing when we don’t have to practice them in difficult times. Loving our enemies, standing up for the oppressed, and being honest when honesty is costly can be daunting if our inner being/our souls and essence are not the source of our thoughts and actions. What do we do? Keeping the peace at all costs is not the way to true and lasting peace. The peace which God calls us to is not about the absence of conflict. It is about being aligned with the power of God’s love in the world and in our hearts. I love the saying of Jesus about peace according to John 14:27 “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” Abraham’s fear of conflict drove him to lie and cheat about Sarah being his wife and not his sister because he was seeking the peace which the world promised but could never truly give.
There are several lessons to learn from Abraham about peace. These are good for Type 9 and for all of us when we seek “peace” at all costs:
- Learn to Deal with Conflict Openly: It is essential for us to learn to deal with conflict in healthy ways. We can’t avoid it because it is part of life. How we deal with it can make a huge difference for our transformation and the transformation of others. Talking directly, honestly, nonviolently, and with vulnerability with those you are in conflict with is the only way to allow the Spirit of God to work to bring healing and resolution to our differences and disagreements.
- Don’t Delay the Work of Transformation: Abraham delayed having to confront his fears of Pharaoh and as a result he caused suffering for others and for himself. It is tempting to put off the difficult work of confronting and releasing our demons and fears, but if we are to find true healing, we must be willing to start the journey and stay the course even as challenges come our way.
- Get in Touch with Your Purpose and Your Inner Truth: It is easy to go with whatever is popular or convenient. But that kind of posture in life does not let us live up to our God-given potential and purpose in life. Nines often struggle with being in touch with their own truth because they are so focused on the truth and perspectives of others.
A few years ago, I heard “The Whatever Prayer” and found it to be powerful and yet also challenging because it seems easier to steer away from painful feelings, conversations, and situations. But a fullness of life in the way and example of Jesus is about a different kind of peace. This peace of God comes from wholeheartedness where we embrace all of life with all its beauty and ugliness. Here is the text of this prayer:
“Whatever I have to see
Whatever I have to feel
Whatever I have to remember
Whatever I have to go through…
If it is for my healing
and the highest good of all beings
I agree to it.”
Prayer by Sandra Smith:
Create in me a refuge for remembering myself, a safe place where I can go deep and explore the full range of who I am. Dissolve my fears of my anger, Holy One, so that I may allow it to guide me in knowing what matters to me and what the matter is. Empty me now of my resistance to my inner journey, my resistance to waking up to my life. Remind me of my own lovability, so that in loving myself, I may genuinely love others, and in this loving show up in the peaceful times and in times of conflict. I no longer want to deprive myself of my life, Holy Lover of my heart. Be my foundation as I honor my life and my relationships by offering my aliveness and my full being. Amen.